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Latitude 38 Salutes the Puddle Jumpers

March 6, 2015 – Mexico & Panama


(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Revved up and rarin' to go, roughly 30 boatloads of westbound cruisers gathered for a sendoff celebration last Wednesday at the Vallarta YC. This week the club is hosting the annual Banderas Bay Regatta.

Photo Latitude / Andy
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

For nearly 20 years we've made great efforts to report on the annual westward migration that we call the Pacific Puddle Jump. Why? Because in the realm of cruising, the 3,000-mile passage from the West Coast of the Americas to French Polynesia is a substantial challenge — what you might call 'varsity-level' cruising. 

As we learn each year at our annual PPJ Sendoff Parties in Mexico and Panama, all sorts of people on all sorts of boats are attracted to this challenge. And we always find it fascinating to learn about the inspirations that led them to this bold adventure. 


Some people pipedream for years about cruising the South Pacific. But not Matt and Megan. Five years ago, they didn't even know the cruising lifestyle existed. 

Photo Latitude / Andy
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Take the Daybreak crew for example. When we met Matt and Megan Martz at last Wednesday's Pacific Puddle Jump Sendoff Party at the Vallarta YC, they explained that they were working in Alaska when they stumbled across the website of two guys who sailed around the world. "We didn't even know that was an option," says Matt. "We're from Indiana, so we'd never even been out on the ocean." That was five years ago. Today, they've become experienced sailors, their Port Townsend-based Nor'West 33 is fitted out for the crossing, and they're rarin' to go. At ages 29 and 30 respectively, Matt and Megan are among the youngest crews we met last week in Mexico.

This week, we're hosting two similar PPJ Sendoff events in Panama. Yesterday's PPJ fiesta at the Balboa YC drew a wide assortment of sailors, including a few who'd only been sailing for a year or two, and one couple who have been cruising since 1982, with periodic layovers to work.

Tomorrow we'll meet another batch of Jumpers from many countries at our final 2015 Sendoff Party at Panama's Shelter Bay Marina. Roughly 800 boats make the voyage to Tahiti each year — and we are sorely tempted to stow away aboard one of them!


Chuck and Laurie of the Long Beach-based Freedom 42 Free Spirit say, "Don't wait until everything is perfect; if you've got the dream, just go for it." They work at keeping their cruising plans loose because, "Wherever we are is the right place." 

Photo Latitude / Andy
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

 

- latitude / andy

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Classy Deadline the 15th


Changes in Longitudes, Changes in Conditions

March 6, 2015 – Banderas Bay and Sint Maarten

Yesterday marked the first day of racing in the 23rd annual Banderas Bay Regatta for [mostly] Cruisers. Based on having done many of them in the past, we’d guess the wind didn’t blow much more than 15 knots, and the seas were almost non-existent for the 32-boat fleet. Ideal pleasure racing conditions.

Iolani

The Stompes raced Iolani on San Francisco Bay for several seasons before heading south. Here she's seen sailing on Banderas Bay.

Photo Latitude / Richard
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

First day winners were: In Cruiser D, Barry and Sylvia Stompe of the Sausalito-based Hughes 48 Iolani, who we warned everyone were a threat even though they have a ketch. Patsy Verhoeven, who came all the way from La Paz, was second. In Cruiser E, Alan Robin’s J/130 Itajime bested Tom Shafer’s Ericson 38 Surface Charge. In JAM (Jib and Main), Glen Campbell’s Cal 29 Margot Louisa took Joel Gerber’s Hunter 40 40 Love. Class G, the Jack ’n Jill, was claimed by Ben and Lucie Mewes with their Van de Stadt 41 Georgia. Cam McDonnell’s Corsair 31 Windtrekker took the two-boat multihull division. Linda Sweet’s Varianta 44 Olas Lindas captured the six-boat Performance A, while Ken Yachechak’s J/24 Juggs took Performance B.

Talion pirates

The crew of Patsy Verhoeven's Gulfstar 50 Talion know how to have fun.

© 2017 Vallarta Yacht Club / www.vallartayachtclub.org

Compare the Banderas Bay Regatta conditions with those for yesterday's Gill Commodore’s Cup in Sint Maarten, which is at about the same latitude as the BBR, but at a very different longitude. A record 81 of the 215 boats that will do the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta (which starts today) battled 30-knot winds — which are four times as strong as 15-knot winds — and breaking seas. It was a tough day. And a lot of small boats race in the Caribbean. For instance, there were eight Melges 24s, which would disappear in the troughs but also enjoy high-octane surfing.

Budget Marine Melges 24 takes off on a wave

Andrea Scarabelli's St. Maarten-based Melges 24 Budget Marine gets some air in the Gill Commodore's Cup.

© 2017 Laurens Morel / www.heinekenregatta.com

Carrying the banner high for the West Coast in CSA 2 was Greg Slyngstad with his J/125 Hamachi. A regular in Pacific Cups and the Rolex Big Boat Series, Slyngstad had two bullets in two races against top-flight competition. 

- latitude / richard

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Crew List Party March 11

March 6, 2015 – Golden Gate Yacht Club, San Francisco



Photo Latitude / Colleen
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC / www.latitude38.com

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Weekend Racing Preview

March 6, 2015 – California

Crossing courses in Big Daddy

Andy Costello's J/125 Double Trouble on a beat for a counterclockwise rounding of Angel Island and Alcatraz, while Wayne Koide's Sydney 36CR Encore prepares to set while going clockwise. The two passed each other in the gap west of the two islands during 2013's Big Daddy pursuit race.

Photo Latitude / Chris
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Don't be left out of one the year's fun, big regatta weekends on San Francisco Bay! Registration for Richmond Yacht Club's Big Daddy Regatta will close today at 5:00 p.m. "Conditions might start out slow for both Saturday and Sunday, but both days should see some nice breeze fill in from the west as the afternoon moves on," says Sail Tactics founder Mike Dvorak. "The usual drought-bringing high-pressure system will be parked above our masthead flies, yielding clear skies and plenty of daytime warmth to drive a decent afternoon sea breeze. The time that the sea breeze fills in could really shake things up during the Sunday pursuit race. The Sail Tactics forecast, out at 7:30 on Saturday and Sunday morning, will have the most accurate prediction of the time the wind will fill in."

Flood current at 12:30 on Sunday

A flood current and potentially light wind at the start of the Big Daddy pursuit race could make things interesting on Sunday. "A sea breeze, likely to fill at some point in the afternoon, will probably make one direction highly favored for boats that get the breeze first," said Mike Dvorak of Sail Tactics. "Which direction is favored depends on the time the westerly fills in. Until the winds build, using the current to drift through the light areas will be helpful."

© 2017 Sail Tactics / www.sailtactics.com

San Diego YC is hosting the Farr 40 Midwinter Championship this week. Racing began on Wednesday and finishes up tomorrow. The Italian boat with the French name, Enfant Terrible, is leading the 11-boat fleet after six races. Alberto Rossi and crew are 8 points ahead of world champion Alex Roepers' Plenty with tactician Terry Hutchinson, the 2014 US Sailing Rolex Yachtsman of the Year. The Corinthian (all-amateur) entries are stacked together at the bottom of the results. Rick Goebel's local boat, Insanity, pulled ahead of Ray Godwin's Temptress yesterday.

A cluster of Farr 40s at the 2014 Worlds

The Farr 40 class, seen here at the Worlds in San Francisco last fall, is racing in San Diego this week.

© 2017 / www.norcalsailing.com

Winter series wrapping up this weekend include Golden Gate YC's Seaweed Soup Regatta, Tiburon YC and Vallejo YC's Midwinters on Saturday, and Island YC's Island Days on Sunday. The Mercury Class NorCal Series at Encinal YC and Stockton Sailing Club's Long Distance Series will begin this Saturday, and Folsom Lake YC's Spring Series will continue. Coyote Point YC will run their John Pitcher Memorial Regatta, also on Saturday. Santa Cruz YC will host Santana 22 Team Racing on Sunday.

For more racing around the Bay Area and beyond this month, check out our Calendar in the March issue of Latitude 38 or online.

Did anyone lose a Mt. Gay Rum hat over the weekend? One was found floating just outside the Berkeley Marina on Monday. Tell us which race and which year it's from, and you can have it back! Email Paul.

- latitude / chris

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